A few years back Cinema Bioscoop’s founder Meike Lindsen went to live in Lisbon, Portugal and somehow found herself teaching Dutch to Portuguese people. ‘They were so into my language and my culture that I really started loving my own cultural background again. I felt like an ambassador of the Dutch culture,’ she recounts. One thing led to another and in 2012, the first edition of the Cinema Bioscoop Festival became a reality.
Since then, it grew organically — London’s first edition was held earlier in 2015 while Lisbon’s fourth edition will take place this coming January. Now in Brussels, Meike hopes that one day the festival can travel all the way to New York. ‘It is cool because it is a small concept in a way — it is Dutch-language films. It will never be as big as an international film festival. And that is not our ambition; that is not the concept. So if we want to grow, we’ll have to grow into the number of locations.’
All That Dutch
That little, extra special thing about the Dutch culture that the festival wants to reveal through cinema is the Dutch language — a very small language in the world language families, not spoken by many people, a bit rough around the edges, but very diverse and dynamic. There is the Dutch of the Netherlands in all of its dialects, the slightly mellower version in Flanders, the Dutch in the former colonies like Suriname, and there is also Afrikaans in South Africa, which was born from Dutch.
‘Your language, your mother tongue is such a big part of you. You can only ever express yourself in the most sincere way if you speak in your own language,’ says Meike. And this is what the festival is all about — it’s about the language, not about a country or a region. And cinema as a universal language is the best medium to share the culture with communities that haven’t had the chance to engage and appreciate Dutch film productions before.
The Brussels Edition
Brussels’ first edition of Cinema Bioscoop will take place from October 8–11 at Cinéma Galeries, an old movie theatre hidden behind a classical 19th-century façade in the heart of the city. The location is what inspires the program of each festival, and this time the focus is arthouse.
The team has selected small but powerful films that are not shown anywhere else in Brussels. ‘I believe this is the strongest program we have had so far. With all the competing cultural events going on here and the rich programs the movie theatres offer to the public, we felt the need to show strong films with topics that really appeal and engaging visual quality. We really handpicked our films this time, more than ever I believe,’ admits Meike.
The festival opens with Margot Schaap’s enticing film Een dag in ‘t jaar (2015, The Netherlands), which was shot over one year — one scene every month — and dwells on the topics of love and loss. On October 9th, you can see the award-winning Dutch movie Prins (2015), directed by Sam de Jong whose camera tells the story of a troubled teenager in the criminal underworld of Amsterdam, followed by the multiple-storyline film Any Way the Wind Blows (2003, Belgium) — the screen debut of Tom Barman, the frontman of the famous rock band dEUS from Antwerp. The moral dilemmas of free love in My Queen Karo (2009, Dorothée Van Den Berghe, The Netherlands/Belgium/France) and the superb psychological thriller Borgman (2013, Alex van Warmerdam, The Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark) will be screened on October 10th. And for the last day, the organizers have chosen the thought-provoking Wan Pipel (1976, Suriname/The Netherlands) by director Pim de la Parra, the first film made in Suriname after their independence. All the screenings will be with French subtitles, and some will feature Q&A sessions with the production teams.
For a true festival experience, the parallel program will endeavor to go beyond the passive viewer experience by putting things into perspective. A lecture on Post-Colonialism and Dutch-language cinema, which will touch on topics of the day like multiculturalism and the refugee crisis in Europe, will be given by Matthias De Groof (University of Antwerp) in the charming La Fleur en Papier Doré/Het Goudblommeke in Papier, a popular meeting place for Belgian surrealist artists in the 1920s.
There will also be a competition in which three teams of young filmmakers are challenged to make a short film from scratch in a seven-day time period. They are given 250 euros and a professional coach who will help them turn their idea into a film. ‘We want to make a connection between Belgium and the Netherlands. We speak the same language. We are neighbors — this is the place to let them meet, to connect. So we are trying to have as diverse mix of teams, coaches and jury members as possible — both from the Netherlands and Flanders.’ The results of this competition will be screened on the last day of the festival, and the winner will be presented by the city of Brussels with a camera worth about €2000.
Check out the complete agenda of Cinema Bioscoop, and plan your trip to the world of Dutch-language cinema!